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Capital Letters

AUGUST 29, 2012

To the Editor:

I very much enjoyed reading David Henderson’s article, “Tear Down These Walls,” in the June 2012 issue of The Freeman. However, I think he misses the point. It is not that borders separate individuals, but that they separate systems. When you have borders between North and South Korea, East and West Germany, or Mexico and the United States, there are stark differences on one side or the other. The border between the United States and Canada has lesser differences. Rather than have everyone come to our system that we have fought for and developed, I think it would make more sense to have others improve their systems. Just about everyone in the world would like to come to America; however, we must have some systematic way of allowing immigration or we will face consequences we can’t even begin to imagine. Those countries that have been adjacent to countries with famine or civil war can attest to that. I do believe we need a well-thought-out plan for immigration, or a way to change the systems in other countries.

—Henry Woodruff
Golden, CO

 

David Henderson replies:

I’m glad you enjoyed my article. Borders separate individuals and economic systems. Like you, I would like governments in various countries to improve their systems. But unlike you, I’m not at ease with the idea of making hundreds of millions of people wait until their governments do improve. They may well wait forever. Your two examples of North and South Korea and East and West Germany are telling. If I were in South Korea today, I would welcome those who escape from that North Korean hellhole. If I had been in West Germany before 1989, I would have welcomed East Germans who escaped from their totalitarian masters. But it appears that you would have had them arrested and sent back. Or are you saying that you would welcome them too? If so, what are we disagreeing about? Or look back at an earlier time in history. Most American readers of this publication probably descend from people who came to the United States in the nineteenth century or later. Many of them immigrated to escape bad governments elsewhere. I would have welcomed them. What would you have done?


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Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
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